Santa Fe City Councilor Michael Garcia said he was concerned that recommendations for monuments like the Soldiers’ Monument did not seem to be a high priority for the team overseeing the city’s Cultural, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth Process during a quarterly update provided to the City Council on Wednesday.

Garcia said he was disappointed after Valerie Martinez, co-director of Artful Life, the group selected to oversee the process, said the priority for the team was community engagement and to gather information, perspectives and opinions and did not expressly include monuments and statues.

“I think we need to rethink this whole process,” he said. “… We’re just going to be further divided in a year if there is still that box on the Plaza. We haven’t made a decision with the Don Diego de Vargas statue and any location around the city that [has] historical trauma related to it.”

Garcia that he believed, based on the resolution, that a recommendation for monuments and statues was going to be a priority for CHART.

The city approved CHART in January, as way to help foster community and cultural healing across the city in the wake of the destruction of the Soldiers’ Monument on Indigenous Peoples Day last year.

The process will be carried out through a year of events, meetings, dialogue sessions, interviews and surveys. City officials have long stated CHART is not expressly about monuments and statues, or art in general, although members of the community are hyperfocused on the subject.

At the end of year, the City Council will be provided a report on the outcomes of CHART.

But Garcia said it might take two years since the obelisk was felled to potentially come up with a recommendation, which he feared left open a gaping community wound.

He asked Martinez to reconsider and reconfigure the process to make sure monuments and statues were a priority, but Martinez encouraged anyone who had an opinion on monuments or statues to participate in CHART and raise that issue.

Garcia also said he had concerns of the makeup of the team selected to facilitate and document the process, questioning if ArtfulLife had any plans to add a historian or open the team to more members.

City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler echoed Garcia’s concerns about the makeup of the facilitator team, saying people she thought would be a great fit told her they were not selected.

“I think overall we have a level of trust that we have to repair,” Vigil Coppler said. “And when people who grew up here and are very familiar with the issues we have gone through, when they don’t identify or even know who are on this group, I think it does some damage to the trust that people have.”

She also questioned why the Spanish fraternal group Union Protectíva de Santa Fé was not listed as a connection in the presentation for CHART. The group is part of lawsuit against the city and Mayor Alan Webber over the city’s handling of the destruction of the Soldiers Monument.

“I am going to be watching this very closely,” Vigil Coppler said. “Obviously, I will not be having a hand in it, but I will be following this very closely.”

City Historian Valerie Rangel said she was confident in the makeup of the team and had no plans to alter it. She said she wanted to make it clear that members of the project team were to facilitate the meetings and conversations, and they are not advocates for specific stances.

“I don’t necessarily agree with you that the team doesn’t reflect the background that I think you are referring to, whether that is Hispanic, or any other term you would like,” Rangel said. “It is hard, with a team that is this diverse, our backgrounds are going to be very diverse.”

Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth agreed, stating she felt the metrics of the team spoke for themselves.

According to a presentation, the 20-person facilitator team is made up of 12 women and eight men. Eight members speak Spanish, while one speaks Tewa, one Diné, one Vietnamese and another German.

Twelve are people of color, with six being lifelong residents. Six of the facilitators are between 16 and 30 years old, five are between 31 and 50, and the rest are between 51 and 80.

Councilor Renee Villarreal said she felt people were judging the facilitators before they got a chance to do their work and she was willing to give them a chance.

Rangel said she felt people would be less concerned if they inspected the biographies of the selected people at

The update was given as CHART prepares for its first slate of events.

On Sunday, the CHART team and the city plan a free opening ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m. at Frenchy’s Field Park, consisting of an homage to the Santa Fe River and an opportunity to meet the CHART team.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, the CHART team will host its first cultural history series, a conversation via Zoom with State Historian Rob Martinez and Rangel.

The topic is, “How can we come to a fuller understanding of the history of Santa Fe?”

(14) comments

Alisha Catanach

People not from here seem to be deeply confused about the history here. Will the members of CHART be required to take a New Mexico history class? Don't forget that Webber supported BLOOMBERG who is known to be racist. OUR HISPANIC HISTORY IS NOT THE SAME AS IT IS IN OTHER CITIES IN MEXICO AND CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA. WE HAVE OUR OWN NEW MEXICO HISTORY THAT IS UNIQUE TO THIS AREA. Hispanic people in New Mexico are mestizo! That means we are mixed! Please require these people to learn about New Mexico's history! Hispanics are mestizos so our ancestors are Native too! They are trying to literally rewrite our history and paint it as something different than what it really is. They hate Hispanic culture, Webber, and his sinister cabal of followers. They want to destroy our culture because they hate Hispanic people and Hispanic culture. They are Hispaniphobic. The anti-Mexican sentiment is not something new ( and racism towards locals and Hispanic people in this city is at an all-time high. Gentrification is ruining our city. People like Webber and his followers are ruining it daily. That's why they call it "Fanta Se" They don't care about local people or the culture. They have zero respect for locals or the culture and think because they have money and are white priveledged, they can look down on us locals as second class citizens. This isn't anything new, but now that we have a MAYOR like this, it will only get worse the next four years. We need to create our own CHART and also Webber should be recalled. He and his followers are clearly dangerous people who are majorly entitled and do not care about Santa Fe. Our city will never be the same.

Santa Fe is in for a rude awakening. This is what happens when people don't vote!

Kiki Martinez

Michael Garcia brings up a valid concern - why aren't the statues and monuments a high priority with the CHART team? Valerie Martinez encourages anyone who has an opinion on statues and monuments to participate and raise the issue - has Ms. Martinez been under a rock?? Has she not seen all the letters to the editor and comments on the New Mexican discussion page in the articles related to the destruction of the Soldier's Monument and the sneaky middle of the night removal of the DeVargas statue??!! This whole CHART idea was put in place by Webber who is the sole nucleus of the division Santa Fe is now living with. The bios of this team don't say much, in reviewing them there are only 6 out of 20 who are originally from New Mexico. And Vigil-Coppler brings up another good point - why wasn't someone from the Union Protectiva listed as a connection to the CHART team? If Webber honestly wanted to put a good foot forward he would try to make peace with the Hispanic organization and realize the pain the Hispanic population of Santa Fe has experienced during his previous term. It sounds to me like this "team" will operate much the same way the City Council operates - for instance, every time someone wants to build a mansion or bring some other "idea" into Santa Fe that is not needed or wanted the whole process goes through city council meetings and blah, blah, blah, only to end up being approved. I am strongly getting the feeling the meetings and outcomes of this Webber created CHART team will operate the same way - in other words a lot of fluff to make it look like care and concern.

Francisco Carbajal

I was just thinking on why the original monument that was destroy in the center of the plaza cannot be reconstructed in designed or exact replica and put back into it's original location? It should be the same for returning the Entrada of Santa Fe festivities during the Fiestas each year. Now, my suggestions can reopen a good kitchen table talk and move forward with a positive outcome. I am certain our pueblo's and hispano(a)'s would not have a problem with a direct link of truth in history and perspective for Santa Fe.

Khal Spencer

Those descriptions of the Chart committee members are long on identity politics and zero on qualifications. Not impressed.

Khal Spencer

Ok, I'll largely take that comment back and have it for dinner. I didn't realize you could click on the pictures and get a full bio. Although the descriptions are long on identity politics, there are some pretty impressive c.v.'s there. Hope they do a good job.

david cartwright

I took the advice of someone quoted in the article and read the bios of the panel. I laughed out loud. Lots of attention paid to the diversity silos of ethnic, racial and sexual identity. No attention paid to a knowledge of history. None of the bios seemed to mention that issue, which I guess I thought would be an overriding one.

Lupe Molina

This is the problem, David. Im happy there are a wide range of demographics represented but none of these folks are the experts we need in this effort.

Richard Reinders


Lynn Hansz

The first error was the SF police allowing the obelisk to be toppled. We, meaning all of us...learn from history and events that occurred. Instead of toppling and burning, erect monuments that honor your own history and then discuss. Trying to erase history is counterproductive and very divisive.

Stefanie Beninato

Free opening ceremony of what? The CHART process which has begun. We were told when council voted for this that if you attend three meetings you will have a say in recommendations on monuments and parks etc. Now it has become a way of collecting community input on larger, vague issues. (Look at the first survey--most people are not going to respond to these very broad questions). And even though the organizers say the first meeting will be next year, they have already met with many organizations--so is this process going to be driven by those organizations--because I recall they were going to be given a seat at the table in the pre CHART process too. Maybe you are right, Richard smoke and mirrors. I see it as an attempt to break down barriers but I am not sure how effective it is when you meet with organizations of like minded people--how do they get exposed to different ideas?

Richard Reinders

IMO Smoke and mirrors and a hand selected committee to finish Webbers agenda to divide the community, For the fifth time I have asked where is the input from the Pueblo leadership, where is the input from the Hispanic leaders. Chart hasn't even got its feet under themselves without concern from the city council.

Stefanie Beninato

Richard Did you skip the list of organization the CHART facilitators have already met with? They include Pueblos and Hispanic organizations. Facts matter.

Richard Reinders

Name one Pueblo Governor on the board or one person from Union Protectiva de Santa Fe. These would be people that speak for the masses of their people, not just their own individual opinion.

Maria Bautista

Webber runs CHART. Period! It is not about process, this Artful Living has only facilitated one such CHART, and violence increased in Albuquerque. They are not credentialed to deal with community trauma. An LLC is not insured to handle emotional issues dealing with death. The owner of Artfuliving is Otero, she was a staff member at Hispanic Cultural Center.Her partner IS married to the Director of the McClune Foundation, she holds the water. Any trauma Martinez exposes, must be held responsible by owners. ARTFULIVING is another word for gentrification. Mayor Keller referred program to Webber.

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